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Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales

Ethical behavior in organizations indicates the need for performance appraisal

systems to explicitly include ethical dimensions of performance.

BARS refer to Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales. It is performance appraisals

technique developed by Smith and Kendall to provide a better method of rating
employees. Behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS) are a combination of the critical
incident and rating scale methods. Employee performance is rated on a scale but the scale
points are anchored with critical incidents. The development of BARS is time consuming,
but the benefits make it worthwhile.

It differs from "standard" rating scales in one central respect, in that it focuses on
behaviors that are determined to be important for completing a job task or doing the job
properly, rather than looking at more general employee characteristics e.g. personality,
vague work habits. Employees are also evaluated in terms of critical incidents of behavior
on the job.


Employee or trainee rating system in which they are graded according to their
display or absence of specific behavioral patterns
An appraisal method that uses quantified scale with specific narrative examples of
good and poor performance
Development of a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

. The use of this scale for conducting research on the process of making ethical

performance judgments is discussed. This study behavioral scale for assessing ethical
judgment using the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) procedure

The behavior criterion has been the most researched topic in performance
appraisal because of its potential to improve the quality of performance ratings. BARS
procedure was used for developing the ethical behavior scale. Incidents dealing with the
same behaviors are grouped to form BARS, which is objectively scored and may involve
either a checklist of behaviors or a rating scale assessing degree of behaviors.

BARS are constructed by the evaluators who will use them. There are four steps
in the BARS construction process:

• Identification of performance dimensions

• Development of critical incidents for these dimensions
• Retranslation of these incidents into the original dimensions
• Evaluate the effectiveness of the incidents

Advantages of BARS:

In theory, a BARS system, if properly implemented should result in fairer and

more accurate assessments of employee performance. In theory, they are indeed better
than more vague rating systems where it's hard to get any two people to agree on what a
particular rating item means.

• A more accurate gauge

• Clearer standard
• Feedback
• Independent dimensions
• Consistency
• Relatively simple to use
• Low interference

Disadvantage of BARS:

Ratings still have inherent flaws, the most notable being that ratings themselves
are not very helpful in helping employees improve performance because too much
information is lost.

Another problem is that there is a tendency for people to believe that BARS
system ratings are objective and that is definitely not the case. Ratings cannot by
definition and by objective.

• Requires expert observers

• Might be difficult to discriminate between performance and Situational
• Questions too broad
• Subjective (as with any questionnaire)
• Compilation of critical behaviors takes considerable effort
• development of BARS is time consuming


This study provides a demonstration of the application of the BARS development

procedure to the generation of behaviorally based ethical rating scales. The scales provide
an initial set of behavioral dimensions that can be used to directly assess the ethicalness
of performance. The generation of these scales should probably be considered an initial

This study provides a demonstration of the development of a behavioral scale for ethical
performance using the BARS procedure. I believe that development of such a scale is
necessary for studying process issues involved in ethical judgment process.


• http://www.performance-appraisals.org/cgi-bin/links/jump.cgi?ID=10492
• http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?
• performance-appraisals.org/faq/bars.htm
• www.businessdictionary.com/.../behaviorally-anchored-rating-scale-
BARS.html -